More and more working people are losing their homes because they can’t afford the rent, says Stacey Carmichael.
“People who are used to making lots of money are now living on (employment insurance) and they just can’t make it,” Carmichael said.
In her position as co-ordinator of community leadership initiatives with the Red Deer and District Community Foundation, she has been working on a plan to end homelessness, which will be presented to Red Deer City Council on Monday.
She said there are new challenges along with the same old challenges to ending homelessness — all of which have been exacerbated by today’s economy.
Carmichael said preventing people from becoming homeless in the first place is one of the critical measures that needs to take place, along with Housing First initiatives that get people off the streets and then deal with their other mental health or addiction issues.
“In our 10-year vision we talked about a river. So we can continue to help people get out of the river of homelessness, but it would be really great if we could just stop them from falling in,” Carmichael said.
Carmichael was one of around 50 people from various agencies that help homeless people, as well as representatives from the business community and provincial and municipal government who met on Thursday at the Riverbend Golf Course.
It was a chance for them to review the Alberta Secretariat for Action on Homelessness’s plan to end homelessness in the province.
Absent from the meeting were any homeless people. The golf course is well outside of the downtown core.
Roxana Nielsen Stewart, with the City of Red Deer, said they would have liked to have had some people who were homeless attend the meeting. She said if anyone had wanted to be there, an organizer would have been willing to drive them out to the event.
Nielsen Stewart, who is the program co-ordinator for housing with the City of Red Deer, said it is tough to say what the number of homeless people is in Red Deer at the moment.
The city is looking at doing a point-in-time count, which would count the number of homeless people in the city at that moment in time.
Nielsen Stewart said ending homelessness is a collaborative process between the City of Red Deer and the province and it is important for municipal representatives and city agencies to be aware of what is going on in the province so they can make the best choices for the community here.